Eurail Passes: The good and bad

The Eurail Global pass  has been around for a while now, and everyone that has been to Europe has asked me whether or not I’ll be utilizing the pass as well…

For months I’ve been saying “I’ll do the Global Pass because it’s only a few hundred dollars more and it gives me a lot more freedom”. Well, after doing more research I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe that decision isn’t as straightforward as I originally thought.

For those of you who don’t know: The Global Pass is basically a ticket that can be validated for continuous travel in the Euro zone (in most countries). In my case, I was looking at a global pass that would be continuous for 3 months straight. For a continuous 3 month pass it would cost me about $1500/CAD.

Recently, I sat down and ran up the costs of point to point tickets for Italy/Spain/Portugal as well as a one month pass that included ten travel days in Germany over a month. The Germany pass would cost $382, and when I add that to the point to point tickets for the rest of my trip it adds up to $1026/CAD. That includes reservations and factoring in the trains that don’t require reservations in Germany.

At first, I thought to myself “hey, even though it’s a few hundred dollars more I at least get the freedom to change my plans whenever I want”. Well, that is partially untrue. I’ve noticed that in Italy and Spain, a lot of the rides I’m taking require a seat reservation, which means that if I change my mind on a seat I had reserved I may end up paying multiple reservation fees on top of my Global Pass. Not to mention the fact that certain lines won’t even accept the pass. So, like Marshall Eriksen would do, I made a bunch of charts and graphs to help factor in the decision:

Positives and Negatives of the Global Pass (looking at my own itinerary):

+ It’s one ticket which makes it easier to keep track of when I’m moving around every 3 days

+ As long  as I don’t pay additional reservation fees way in advance, I have more opportunity to decide which times I’d like to travel

+Includes entrance or discounts to many sites in Europe

+Includes cost of local transport in many German cities

– Reservation fees on top of the cost for Global Pass

– Only available to certain train lines

-High up front cost

-Pay additional $100+ to protect your pass (adds up)

– People who pay for individual tickets on the same train get priority (because they most likely book ahead)

The Verdict:

I most likely will be avoiding the Global Pass. Considering I already know where I wan’t to go I believe I’m better off saving around $400 by purchasing point-to-point tickets rather than paying $1500/CAD plus potentially adding a protection plan (plus reservation fees).

However, my last month will be in Germany, and I have found that a pass for 10 travel days in a month costs way less than most point-to-point tickets I was looking at. So I will be combining a one month Germany pass with point-to-point tickets.

That’s just for me. I’m the kind of person that likes to pick out my hubs way in advance and then plan any day trips after the fact. In my case, a lot of day trips I want to go on are cheaper and easier when I use bus lines. Regardless of how long you are travelling for, it’s probably worth looking up the cost of point-to-point tickets as well, you may end up saving hundreds of dollars that way (just don’t lose your tickets or confirmations). 

Monday- Dresden: Phatons and Moritzburg 

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